filing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/263/all en-US Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016 http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/doing_taxes_2015_000013751696.jpg" alt="Woman learning tax facts for 2016" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>2015 is a rough year for taxpayers.</p> <ul> <li>This is the first year the IRS administers the premium tax credits and individual mandates under the Affordable Care Act.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The number of IRS employees assigned to phones <a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/tax-season-2015-irs-cutbacks-cripple-taxpayer-services-poor-elderly-1871896">dropped by 26%</a>, and those employees answer fewer than 40% of calls.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Lucky callers that get to talk to somebody at the IRS only do so after waiting up to 70% longer than five years ago, and can only get answers to the most basic tax questions.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Nina Olson, taxpayer advocate at the IRS, summarized this tax season as a &quot;devastating erosion of taxpayer service&quot; and a &quot;<a href="http://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/userfiles/file/2014-Annual-Report-to-Congress-Executive-Summary.pdf">sad state of affairs</a>.&quot;</li> </ul> <p>Once this year's tax season is in the books, it's time to get ready for the one next year. To help you determine what's in store, here are three tax facts to know for 2016.</p> <h2>1. More Time to File</h2> <p>About one third of Americans wait until the last minute to file their federal taxes.</p> <p>Those procrastinating tax filers (not you, of course!) will be happy to find that most of them are going to get four extra days to file federal taxes in 2015. There are three reasons for this extension.</p> <ul> <li>2016 is a leap year, so February 29th provides a much needed extra day.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The 154th anniversary of Emancipation Day, when former President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, falls on April 15th in 2016. Made an official public holiday under <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/7503">Section 7503 of the Tax Code</a> in 2005, Emancipation Day pushes the tax deadline to the next business day.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Since Tax Day and Emancipation Day will be observed on Friday April 15, 2016, the next business day will be Monday April 18, 2016.</li> </ul> <p>Wohoo! Most taxpayers will have until Monday April 18, 2016 to file federal taxes (four extra days).</p> <p>You may be wondering why I keep saying that &quot;most taxpayers&quot; get four extra days. The reason is that some taxpayers will get <em>five </em>extra days.</p> <p>Residents of Maine and Massachusetts will celebrate Patriot's Day (a state holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War) on Monday April 18, 2016. The aforementioned Section 7503 of the Tax Code includes in its definition of &quot;legal holiday&quot; any statewide legal holiday in the state where such office is located.</p> <p>So, residents of Maine and Massachusetts have until the closing hours of the postal office on Tuesday April 19, 2016 (five extra days!) to drop their federal tax forms in the mail.</p> <p>Need even more time than that? Then make sure to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/filed-an-extension-heres-what-you-need-to-know">file an extension</a> by the deadline.</p> <h2>2. Over 100,000 Compromised Tax Records</h2> <p>Even when you cross the t's and dot the i's in your federal tax forms, something may still go wrong.</p> <p>In May 2015, the IRS announced that &quot;...criminals used taxpayer-specific data acquired from non-IRS sources to <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Statement-on-the-Get-Transcript-Application">gain unauthorized access</a> to information on approximately 100,000 tax accounts.&quot; Identity thieves got away with Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and street addresses through the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript">IRS Get Transcript</a> online service, which is currently unavailable.</p> <p>Those 100,000 taxpayers affected by the data breach will receive a letter from the IRS officially notifying them of the event and providing recommendations for next steps, such as credit monitoring.</p> <p>However, there's more to this breach.</p> <ul> <li>An estimated additional 100,000 taxpayers will also receive IRS letters in the event that the criminals tried, but were unsuccessful, to <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/Written-Testimony-of-Commissioner-Koskinen-on-Unauthorized-Attempts-to-Access-Taxpayer-Data-before-Senate-Finance-Committee">gain access to taxpayer data</a> through the Get Transcript application.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>About 13,000 suspect returns were filed for tax year 2014 and their refunds were already sent out.</li> </ul> <p>If you were a victim of identify theft, you may have already received (or will receive) an IRS letter in the near future. This would surely throw a monkey wrench into your 2016 tax filing.</p> <h2>3. Late State Tax Refunds</h2> <p>This 2015 the state tax man cometh late.</p> <p>In response to the increasing number of tax fraud cases around the country, more than one state Department of Taxation is delaying refunds. For example, the Hawaii State Department of Taxation initially told taxpayers it would take six to eight weeks to process submitted tax forms.</p> <ul> <li>By April 2015, new procedures to prevent tax fraud increased the wait period to <a href="http://khon2.com/2015/04/08/state-tax-refunds-delayed-further-by-new-fraud-prevention-procedures/">approximately 10 to 14 weeks</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The Hawaii Department of Taxation updated the processing time to up to 16 weeks on May 6, 2015. Further delays are expected since refunds issued after July 20, 2015 will start receiving interest.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Hawaii taxpayers that file their state taxes online usually get a faster refund. This won't be the case for 2015.</li> </ul> <p>But Hawaii taxpayers aren't the only ones on this boat.</p> <ul> <li>The state Department of Taxation of Colorado has noticed a spike in fraudulent forms, so they had to <a href="http://www.thedenverchannel.com/money/consumer/wheres-my-refund-colorado-tax-refunds-delayed-following-possible-fraud-through-turbotax-software">suspend refunds for 10 days</a>. As a result, many refunds may be still be delayed.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The State of Alabama Department of Revenue saw a rise in the filings of fraudulent state income tax returns using online software services, so they had to implement a <a href="http://revenue.alabama.gov/idquiz/">Taxpayer ID Confirmation Quiz</a>. Some Alabamians are required to take this quiz and, if the fail to complete it, they won't have their refund processed.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The Louisiana Department of Revenue didn't start issuing state income refunds until the last week of February due to an <a href="http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/news/local/2015/03/03/state-begins-issuing-income-tax-refunds/24330635/">increase in tax fraud</a>.</li> </ul> <p>Waiting on your refund, if any, may put a hold on your finances, particularly when you're counting on that refund to make a down payment, pay a big bill, or reduce debt. This is why you need to figure out the appropriate withholding rate (not too big, not too small) so that you don't end up owing the taxman a big check. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make?ref=seealso">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a>)</p> <p>More days to file federal taxes, letters from the IRS warning some taxpayers about identity theft and tax fraud, and delayed state tax refunds are sure to make 2016 an interesting year.</p> <p><em>What is your forecast for 2016's tax season? Please share in the comments below or tweet us at </em><a href="http://twitter.com/wisebread"><em>@Wisebread</em></a><em>.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-so-fast-5-things-you-must-do-after-filing-taxes">Not So Fast! 5 Things You Must Do After Filing Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/charitable-giving-get-a-receipt">Charitable giving - get a receipt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes extensions filing fraud IRS refunds taxpayers Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:00:12 +0000 Damian Davila 1462317 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Simple Ways to Save Money by Tracking Your Receipts http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-ways-to-save-money-by-tracking-your-receipts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-simple-ways-to-save-money-by-tracking-your-receipts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_with_receipts_000047774388.jpg" alt="Woman keeping track of receipts and saving money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Receipts are often annoying little pieces of paper that we disregard or forget about &mdash; that is, until we need to exchange an item or file expenses. Although it might take a little effort, keeping track of your receipts can help you better manage your financial life and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/39-tips-thatll-save-you-hundreds-on-your-next-trip-0">save money</a>. Here's how.</p> <h2>1. Missed Discounts</h2> <p>Did you know that some retailers will offer a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-to-get-a-sale-price-match-at-16-popular-stores">retroactive discount</a> in the event you forget to use a coupon when you originally purchase? It's true. Even if you forget to use a coupon at the store, you can walk back in and ask customer service to help you.</p> <p>When I forgot to use a 20% off coupon for a purchase I made at Bed Bath &amp; Beyond, I took the original receipt and coupon to the customer service desk and received a credit of the same 20% savings on a future purchase. Having this receipt handy saved me a good chunk of change.</p> <h2>2. Survey Savings</h2> <p>I've recently noticed that more and more restaurants and retail stores are asking customers to complete a survey in exchange for discounts or freebies. They need your feedback, and want to reward you in a small way for your help.</p> <p>Old Navy, for example, will offer a 10% off coupon code when you complete a survey of your store shopping experience. It takes about three minutes to fill out the survey online and you'll be given a coupon code for 10% off your entire purchase the next time you're in the store.</p> <p>Aside from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-ways-to-save-money-on-clothes">saving money on clothes</a>, I've received free burgers, drinks, cash, and other freebies for completing surveys that were printed on store receipts. It really does pay to keep your receipt and spend a few minutes answering the questions.</p> <h2>3. Catching Pricing Errors</h2> <p>We're all busy people, and this includes cashiers, which means it's highly probable that we're going to miss important savings. Whether it's us or the cashier who's in a hurry, a mistake could occur when checking out.</p> <p>I always keep the receipt and thoroughly glance over it before leaving the store. Sometimes an employee will forget to scan a coupon I gave them, or they might ring up an item twice. Other times, it's helpful to verify the price that was scanned versus the price displayed on the shelf.</p> <p>If a company has an item priced for $6, they have to sell it to you for that price, even if it's originally labeled for $20. So be sure to pay attention while checking out, or at the very least, review your receipt before leaving the store.</p> <h2>4. Tax Deductions</h2> <p>As a freelancer myself, it's vital that I keep record of all <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-fund-your-business-without-touching-savings">business-related expenses</a> and purchases throughout the year. When you're a business owner, you already have to pay your own Social Security and Medicare tax (since you don't have an employer to help split the difference) which means you'll want to get all the deductions and credits you deserve.</p> <p>Business trips and client meetings over coffee or lunch all count towards tax savings that can be deducted on your tax return at the end of the year. Even job hunting or moving expenses can help decrease your overall tax burden.</p> <h2>5. Rebates and Cash Back</h2> <p>This is likely one of the best reasons to keep a receipt, especially if it's for an electronic or gadget purchase. My husband recently upgraded his gaming computer and was able to get over $85 worth of cash rebates and gift cards because he followed the instructions for the rebate offers.</p> <p>Companies are usually very strict about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-earn-cashback-rewards-without-extra-spending">rebates and cashback policies</a>, so be sure you're following the directions exactly. Often you'll have to mail in the original receipt, so you'll want to make a copy of it for yourself before sending it out.</p> <p>Without the original receipt, most companies will <em>not </em>honor the rebate offer and you could be missing out on a good chunk of savings.</p> <h2>6. Mobile Apps to Store Receipts</h2> <p>We've established that keeping your receipts is important if you want to save more money, so how can you store them in an organized manner? The best answer is to use mobile apps to help stay organized and keep them for future reference.</p> <h3>Shoeboxed</h3> <p><a href="https://www.shoeboxed.com/">Shoeboxed</a> is a comprehensive mobile app that allows you to input your receipts manually, or take a picture of the receipt digitally. You can then store the information for tracking expenses, mileage or meal reimbursements, and easily export to bookkeeping software for expense reports.</p> <h3>Expensify</h3> <p>If you work in sales or are someone who travels a lot for business, <a href="https://www.expensify.com/">Expensify</a> is exactly what you need. Their SmartScan technology easily reads and scans your receipt, which you can then categorize, tag, and save for future reference. In the event you lose your original receipt, this app then generates and IRS-guaranteed eReceipt that's good for redemption purposes.</p> <h3>OneReceipt</h3> <p>With <a href="https://www.onereceipt.com/">OneReceipt</a> you can save both physical receipts and digital ones made from online purchases that are received in your email inbox. Either take an image of your paper receipt, or forward a digital receipt for categorization and saving using your personal &quot;@onereceipt.com&quot; email address.</p> <p><em>Do you use your receipts to save money? What's another way to maximize your savings by keeping track of receipts?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-ways-to-save-money-by-tracking-your-receipts">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">Don&#039;t Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-budget-for-summer-vacation">7 Easy Ways to Budget for Summer Vacation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/working-on-the-road-a-book-review-for-professional-nomads">Working on the Road: A Book Review for Professional Nomads</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget">10 Sites and Apps to Help You Track Your Spending and Stick to Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-first-step-to-budgeting">The First Step to Budgeting</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Organization documents expenses filing receipts Fri, 19 Jun 2015 11:00:20 +0000 Carrie Smith 1457076 at http://www.wisebread.com Not So Fast! 5 Things You Must Do After Filing Taxes http://www.wisebread.com/not-so-fast-5-things-you-must-do-after-filing-taxes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/not-so-fast-5-things-you-must-do-after-filing-taxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_phone_000037348706.jpg" alt="Woman on her phone after filing her taxes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Tax filing can be stressful, fraught with too many numbers and documents &mdash; but when you're finally done, it feels like such a relief. Whether you file online or mail in your return all old school, getting done usually feels like a huge weight off your shoulders.</p> <p>But wait! Before you relax too much, chuck all your papers into the trash, and move on with your life, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here's what to do <em>after </em>you file your taxes.</p> <h2>1. Keep Your Records</h2> <p>At the very least, keep your records easily accessible and on-hand until you receive your tax refund or until you get notice that your payment has been processed (be sure to verify this with your bank!). That way, you have everything in front of you in case you need to file again (or chase down answers about what happened with your taxes).</p> <p>Otherwise, you should keep copies of your old tax returns indefinitely. It used to be common practice to get rid of these after seven to 10 years. Now that you can store them electronically, though, there's no reason not to keep them longer. Remember that the IRS can audit you for years afterward, so it's important to be prepared.</p> <p>As for other tax-related paperwork, how long you keep your documentation depends on your particular tax situation. Find your particular situation on this <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-%26-Self-Employed/How-long-should-I-keep-records">tax checklist</a> and store your documents accordingly.</p> <h2>2. Check the Status of Your Filing</h2> <p>If you file electronically, you can check the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Refunds">status of your taxes</a> as soon as 24 hours after you file (if you mail in your return, it will take up to four weeks for your data to show up in the system). Use the IRS's simple online form, or download their IRS2Go app to check. You'll need your social security number, your filing status, and the exact amount of your refund to login.</p> <p>Checking on your filing won't just aide your peace of mind, but it'll also help you avoid any potential problems before they arise. If your return doesn't show up in the system, for example, you can handle that before your filing is considered late. If you have any doubts, get in touch with your local IRS office.</p> <h2>3. Make Your Payments</h2> <p>If you owe taxes, make sure that you've paid them, and not just filed your return. Most of the time, you can pay when you e-file, or send a check when you mail in your return. If you don't do either of those, though, you can pay through the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Payments">IRS payments site</a>. Send an electronic check directly from your account, or use a credit or debit card. Pay by <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Pay-by-Check-or-Money-Order">check or money order</a> with their instructions.</p> <p>The most important thing is that you pay whatever you owe. It isn't only essential that you file your return, but that the government gets any money that is theirs by the April 15 deadline.</p> <h2>4. ...Or File for a Payment Plan</h2> <p>If you discover that you owe more money than you expected, or if you just don't have the cash on hand, you can request a payment plan. There's an online <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Online-Payment-Agreement-Application">payment agreement application</a>, and as long as you meet their requirements, they're fairly easy to get.</p> <p>It goes without saying that if you have a payment plan, you need to stick to it. Failing to pay owed money to the IRS comes with consequences.</p> <h2>5. If You're Struggling, File an Extension</h2> <p>Technically, this isn't something you do after you file your taxes. But if you're really having difficulty finishing your taxes in a timely fashion, file an extension. These are granted automatically, as long as you fill out your paperwork properly.</p> <p>A tax extension will give you an extra six months to file your taxes, so your return will be due October 15 instead of April 15. Make sure you file it before the original due date and that you figure out whatever you need before your final deadline.</p> <p>If you've got all these ducks in a row, take a break. Relax. Breathe. Do something fun. You definitely deserve it.</p> <p><em>What do you do after you file your taxes? And how will you celebrate being done with them?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-so-fast-5-things-you-must-do-after-filing-taxes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cant-pay-your-taxes-heres-what-to-do">Can&#039;t Pay Your Taxes? Here&#039;s What to Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/charitable-giving-get-a-receipt">Charitable giving - get a receipt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes filing IRS payment plans records tax extensions Thu, 02 Apr 2015 09:00:10 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1360955 at http://www.wisebread.com Why You Should Always "Get It in Writing" http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-should-always-get-it-in-writing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-you-should-always-get-it-in-writing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/writing-5087000-small.jpg" alt="writing" title="writing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>At some point in your life, someone is going to do something that adversely impacts you, whether your employer skips you over for a promotion or your landlord tries to keep your entire security deposit. You're going to have to fight back and prove that you're in the right. And to do that, you're going to need evidence. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/organizing-your-financial-paperwork" target="_blank">Organizing Your Financial Paperwork</a>)</p> <p>The average organization (or individual) doesn't set out to make your life hard. They just work from the assumption that they must be right, at least until shown otherwise. That means that you need documentation of the circumstances in order to win fights. And, since it's tough to tell when someone is going to do something wrong in advance, it's a good idea to build a habit of keeping good documentation.</p> <h2>Get It in Writing</h2> <p>I can't count the number of times that someone has <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-what-you-want-on-customer-service-calls" target="_blank">promised me one thing on the phone</a> and forgotten all about it the moment he's hung up. Unless you have a recording of the phone call (which can actually get you into legal trouble!), it's a matter of &quot;he said, she said.&quot; The only alternative is to get any <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/22-reasons-to-write-a-letter" target="_blank">decisions in writing</a>, especially if they're out of the ordinary.</p> <p>It's easy to ask the person you talked to for an email laying out the terms you just discussed. Actually getting that email can be a different matter. Turning the tables can speed up the process; you can write up the terms you discussed and send it to your contact, asking for confirmation that you wrote everything up correctly. Even a quick reply saying that it's exactly what you discussed will help you win your fights down the road. And your email is easier to search than voice mails and other recordings.</p> <h2>Store and Organize Your Documents</h2> <p>Most of us have employment contracts, utility bills, and stacks of other papers all over the place. A haphazard organization system is no help in winning a dispute because you may not even be able to find your documentation. One of the best options is <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-go-entirely-paperless-at-home" target="_blank">to digitize everything</a>, particularly with text recognition software, so you can easily search for any document you need. (I use <a href="http://www.evernote.com/" target="_blank">Evernote</a> and a scanner.)</p> <p>Build a habit of scanning every piece of paperwork you need and saving it to the same place. You'll want a back up of your files and you may also need to keep your physical copies &mdash; but those won't need to be so thoroughly filed.</p> <h2>Double Check Your Terms</h2> <p>We all forget the details after a while. If something feels a little off and you think you may have to gear up for a dispute, check your documentation before you draw your line in the sand. You may need to round up a few more papers before going up against the bureaucracy. Or you may want to renegotiate those terms. Either way, you'll need the documents in order to get what you want.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been forced to defend yourself with documents? Please share your experience in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-should-always-get-it-in-writing">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-4-step-plan-to-manage-your-medical-correspondence">The Best 4-Step Plan to Manage Your Medical Correspondence</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated">No Signal? 5 Quick Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Reception. Updated.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-wallet">10 Things You Should Do Immediately After Losing Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-refund-when-something-is-non-refundable">How to Get a Refund When Something Is Non-Refundable</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs business disputes documentation evernote filing paperwork Fri, 14 Jun 2013 09:48:32 +0000 Thursday Bram 977397 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Tax Tips to Help You Get Started http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tax-tips-to-help-you-get-started <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-tax-tips-to-help-you-get-started" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/414669012_1e6d3f5dc8_z.jpg" alt="tax help" title="tax help" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on tax tips to help you get started this filing season, what to do before you lose your wallet, and working from home with young children.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.moolanomy.com/6426/5-tax-tips-to-help-you-get-started-this-filing-season/">5 Tax Tips To Help You Get Started This Filing Season</a> &mdash; Need help getting started with your taxes? Use VITA or TCE for assistance with your tax return. [Moolanomy]</p> <p><a href="http://moneyqanda.com/lose-your-wallet/">What To Do Right Now Before You Lose Your Wallet</a> &mdash; Before you lose your wallet, make a list of everything you carry in your wallet. [Money Q&amp;A]</p> <p><a href="http://wealthyturtle.com/5-ways-to-work-from-home-with-young-children/">5 Ways to Work From Home with Young Children</a> &mdash; To be successful working from home with young children, play with your kids before you work. [Wealthy Turtle]</p> <p><a href="http://www.carefulcents.com/simplify-your-goals/">How to Make This Year Extraordinary By Simplifying Your Goals</a> &mdash; By focusing on less so you can achieve more, you can make your year extraordinary and simplify your goals. [Careful Cents]</p> <p><a href="http://www.joetaxpayer.com/frugal-yet-romantic-gifts-for-valentines-day/">Frugal Yet Romantic Gifts for Valentine's Day</a> &mdash; This Valentine's Day, consider giving your sweetheart a love note! [Joe Taxpayer]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://lifehacker.com/5983847/how-to-work-an-on-call-job-and-keep-your-sanity">How to Work an On Call Job and Keep Your Sanity</a> &mdash; When working an on call job, keep your sanity by figuring out where to draw your boundaries. [Lifehacker]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Good-Money-Habits-Start-27864416">6 Good Spending Habits to Start for Lent</a> &mdash; Pick up a good habit for Lent and start keeping detailed track of your expenses. [SavvySugar]</p> <p><a href="http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mjh45hdlm/1-your-federal-rate-is-headed-up-3/?ss=personalfinance">10 Reasons To Convert To A Roth IRA</a> &mdash; If you are moving to a high tax state, it is a good idea to convert to a Roth IRA. [Forbes]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/6-ways-to-share-the-love-on-valentine-s-day">7 Ways to Share the Love on Valentine's Day</a> &mdash; To share the love on Valentine's Day, bake some treats! [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2013/02/our-second-cruise.html">Our Second Cruise</a> &mdash; Did you know you can get good deals on cruises through Costco? [Free Money Finance]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tax-tips-to-help-you-get-started">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/charitable-giving-get-a-receipt">Charitable giving - get a receipt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bar-stool-economics-0">Bar Stool Economics</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-marriage-penalty-of-taxes-in-america-how-does-it-affect-you">The &quot;marriage penalty&quot; of taxes in America - how does it affect you?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes best money tips filing tax tips taxes Thu, 14 Feb 2013 11:00:32 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 967856 at http://www.wisebread.com To Shred or Not to Shred: How Long to Keep Your Tax Records http://www.wisebread.com/to-shred-or-not-to-shred-how-long-to-keep-your-tax-records <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/to-shred-or-not-to-shred-how-long-to-keep-your-tax-records" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000009045692Small2.jpg" alt="Man overwhelmed by documents" title="Man overwhelmed by documents" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="134" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Maybe you've heard of that seven-year rule? It says that you should keep all your receipts and records for at least seven years. That's not true in all cases, but knowing what you should keep, and how long you should keep it, can be confusing and complicated. According to the IRS website, there are no hard and fast rules on <a href="http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/how-long-should-you-keep-bank-financial-tax-statements/">how long you should hang onto documents</a>. Nor are there rules for how you should keep them (paper copies, online, or scanned and stored to a hard drive). You will just need to have access to them if you should ever get audited or need them for other purposes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-quick-tips-for-organizing-your-finances">6 Quick Tips for Organizing Your Finances</a>)</p> <h3>The Tax-Review Period</h3> <p>The basic period for IRS tax review is three years. Yes, that means that even if you filed your taxes this year, got your refund or paid your taxes due, the IRS can audit you for up to three years. If it is suspected that you filed a fraudulent claim, or you owe more taxes, there is a chance you could be asked to show some documentation. So a good rule of thumb is to keep everything related to your taxes for <em>at least</em> three years.</p> <h3>Special Circumstances</h3> <p>Outside of the three-year tax review window, there are other reasons that you could be audited or asked to show your tax documents. The length of time the IRS has to ask for these documents varies. Here are some examples:</p> <ul> <li>If you goofed on reporting your income by more then 25%, the IRS can audit you and ask to see proof of income for up to six years. So it's a good idea to hang onto your tax-related documents if you think you may have under-reported your income in any way.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you <a href="http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/file-tax-return-what-happens-when-you-dont-penalties/">didn't file a return but should have</a>, you need to keep your tax records indefinitely.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you <a href="http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/how-to-file-an-amended-tax-return/">amended your tax return</a> to get an additional refund, you should keep your tax records for three years from the date of your amended return.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you filed a fraudulent return, there is no limit on how long you should hang onto your tax records.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you claimed a loss from a worthless security, then you need to hold onto those records for seven years.</li> </ul> <h3>Other Reasons to Keep Records</h3> <p>Even if you don't need some of your records for IRS purposes anymore, you may want to consider if you need them for another reason before tossing them. For instance, you may need documents related to your home for insurance purposes. If you own an item or piece of property, it's a good idea to hang onto any documentation related to those items. You could find yourself needing them for a warranty or return.</p> <p>It's also a good idea to hang onto your past income tax returns. There are so many programs that require proof of income, such as food stamps and medical aid assistance, and usually furnishing a past tax return is all the proof you need. It's also helpful in having past tax returns to prepare future returns.</p> <p>When we decided to build our first home a few years back, our bank was a stickler about having proof of income &mdash; primarily because I had recently transitioned to the realm of the self-employed. I had to provide both proof of income as well as a recently filed tax return.</p> <p>In any case, it's a good idea to hang onto all tax records for at least the three-year period that you could be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-survive-a-tax-audit">audited</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jeff-rose">Jeff Rose</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/to-shred-or-not-to-shred-how-long-to-keep-your-tax-records">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-ways-to-save-money-by-tracking-your-receipts">6 Simple Ways to Save Money by Tracking Your Receipts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-i-have-to-report-this-income-0">Do I Have to Report This Income?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tax-document-checklist-what-to-gather-before-doing-your-taxes">Tax Document Checklist: What to Gather Before Doing Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-are-your-chances-of-getting-audited-by-the-irs-your-guess-is-probably-wrong">What are your chances of getting audited by the IRS? Your guess is probably wrong</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization Taxes audit filing tax records Wed, 27 Jul 2011 10:24:05 +0000 Jeff Rose 629785 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Quick Tips for Organizing Your Finances http://www.wisebread.com/6-quick-tips-for-organizing-your-finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-quick-tips-for-organizing-your-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000003937207Small.jpg" alt="Man with too much paperwork" title="Man with too much paperwork" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you ever find it hard to juggle your personal finances? I do. I keep having this awful feeling that I&rsquo;ve forgotten to pay a bill or something. Those thoughts are a clear reminder that I need to do a better job organizing my finances. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/financial-iq-test-how-healthy-is-your-budget">Financial IQ Test: How Healthy Is Your Budget?</a>)</p> <p>In case there are others in need of financial organization, I&rsquo;ve included these tips.</p> <h3>1. Reduce Your Total Number of Financial Accounts</h3> <p>Most people could only dream about a situation where there they have one bank account, one credit card, and one brokerage.&nbsp;We&rsquo;ve developed a complicated financial system where there&rsquo;s a credit card for online, one for the gas station, and one for overseas. Then there&rsquo;s the bank that gives high interest, the bank that gives cash back, and the bank that has minimal fees.</p> <p>All this juggling and shuffling accounts gets too complicated. Get online and reduce your total number of accounts.</p> <h3>2. Amalgamate Financial Accounts into One Institution</h3> <p>Do you have a bank account at one place, a credit card through another company, and investments with a different brokerage?</p> <p>Is there a bank or financial institution that will provide all those services in one convenient location? When you&rsquo;re dealing with a single entity, the process of maintaining your finances is simplified.</p> <h3>3. Find an Effective Financial Tracking System</h3> <p>No matter how much you amalgamate and reduce your accounts, there is still the issue of tracking everything. Finding simple-but-effective personal finance software will allow you to easily track all of your accounts in one place. For over a year I&rsquo;ve used Moneydance, and I&rsquo;ve found it helpful to see an overview of my finances in one click.</p> <h3>4. Establish a Good Filing System</h3> <p>One of the biggest costs associated with financial disorganization comes in the form of missed payments. Just this week I found a bill on the fridge that was hiding under another piece of paper.</p> <p>You can add a file for unpaid bills in your filing cabinet. However, if most of your bills are electronic, you can create a folder on your computer for unpaid bills.</p> <p>One concern is that these bills might be buried, so you need to have a system for regularly checking both the physical and computer folders. You might consider setting up a computer reminder to be sure you are regularly checking the folders. So, for example, on the 10th and 20th of every month, you would open those folders and pay all those bills.</p> <p>You could also consider setting up automatic payments, but there is also the danger that you might <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-overdraft-protection-racket-why-banks-want-you-to-overdraw-and-how-you-can-get-your-money-back">overdraw your account</a> if you don&rsquo;t properly monitor all your payments.</p> <h3>5. Keep a Regular Schedule</h3> <p>This one has been killing me lately. My wife and I used to sit down for 15-30 minutes once a week. At that time we would enter receipts into our budget, pay bills if necessary, and talk about any financial changes we need.</p> <p>However, lately we&rsquo;ve been out of that rut, and after a couple of weeks the pile gets so big, it&rsquo;s intimidating.</p> <p>Small, regular tasks are much easier that big jobs done infrequently.</p> <h3>6. Always Have a Notebook Handy</h3> <p>I have one in my car and one by my office desk. When I buy gas, I can record the information. When I think of a financial task that needs to be done, I can just jot it down to take care of at the next scheduled time to process payments.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re looking for more tips, here are 28 tips for organizing your finances, <a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/02/19/how-to-organize-your-finances-in-four-easy-steps/">how to organize your finances in four easy steps</a>, and ten ways to organize and simplify your finances.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/craig-ford">Craig Ford</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-quick-tips-for-organizing-your-finances">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/be-in-charge-of-your-finances">Be In Charge of Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/create-your-own-raise">Create Your Own Raise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-i-knew-it-benefit-of-expense-tracking">The &quot;I Knew It!&quot; Benefit of Expense Tracking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-your-emergency-fund-costing-you-money">Is Your Emergency Fund Costing You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-mistakes-to-stop-making-by-50">5 Money Mistakes to Stop Making by 50</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance filing organizing finances tracking spending Wed, 16 Feb 2011 13:36:14 +0000 Craig Ford 490553 at http://www.wisebread.com The Best 4-Step Plan to Manage Your Medical Correspondence http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-4-step-plan-to-manage-your-medical-correspondence <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-best-4-step-plan-to-manage-your-medical-correspondence" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/411869140_7ca0364227.jpg" alt="file folders" title="file folders" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've ever seen a doctor or been covered by health insurance, you'll relate to this. You sift through a pile of mail, and in it are two letters from your health insurer, a couple more from your doctor, one from your dentist, a packet from your employer's HR department, and something else from your Flexible Spending Administrator. If you have any kind of chronic illness or have recently switched insurance, the volume of this correspondence could be significant. How do you process the deluge of statements, notices, and bills for your healthcare? As with any good personal finance problem, there is a 4-step plan.</p> <p>While many insurers are allowing members to opt out of hardcopy mail in favor of emailed statements and e-alerts, the same concepts still apply as they would with hardcopy mail. Each piece of information you receive needs to be processed. Processing them with these four steps could make the difference between overlooking important pieces of information due to disorganization or staying a step ahead of your medical providers and payers and getting your bills resolved correctly.</p> <h3>1. Is it relevant or is it junk?</h3> <p>As with other types of correspondence you receive, the first thing to determine is if what you received from your insurer, provider, or employer is junk or relevant. Many pieces of correspondence that are relevant to you and should not immediately be discarded. A good rule of thumb is that anything pertaining to a specific medical service (bill, statement, Explanation of Benefits (EOB)) is probably something you'll want to either review carefully or save for future reference. Other pieces &mdash; standard privacy disclosures, announcements about services, and other form mailers &mdash; can probably be quickly discarded after a quick once-over.</p> <p>One word of caution: During your employer's open-enrollment season, be a little extra cautious about what you toss out. This is a time of year when it is worth doing an extra review of that seemingly low-value mail, as it could inform you of an important benefit or enrollment deadline. More than one person has had to spend hours correcting a benefits problem because the piece of paper they tossed out needed to be filled out and returned by a deadline.</p> <p>Doing this first triage step alone should get rid of a third or more of the medical documentation you receive.</p> <h3>2. Does it pertain to an <i>unresolved</i> medical bill or recent service?</h3> <p>They key word here is &quot;unresolved&quot;. Any documentation you receive related to a medical service that has yet to be settled, either by you or your insurance, should be saved in some sort of &quot;active&quot; file. It is likely that you will want to cross-reference an EOB from an insurer with the bill from the provider. In many cases, such as a Labor and Delivery, there might be multiple medical bills that you will need to compare with your EOBs to make sure everything ties together. If digging into an EOB is at all intimidating or confusing, you may find this guide on <a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/health-insurance-101/reading-an-eob">how to read an EOB</a> helpful.</p> <p>On the other hand, if the correspondence you receive simply refers to some past medical bill or service that you believe has been paid accurately, such as an EOB showing that your insurer paid in full, you can skip to step 4.</p> <h3>3. Do you need to call someone?</h3> <p>Occasionally, you will open a piece of correspondence that sets off a red flag: Your insurance has denied an entire claim. Your doctor billed you $350 for a flu shot. Your provider says the entire bill is your responsibility because they have no insurance on file, even though you are fully covered. In these cases, pick up the phone and talk to whoever the information is from. HealthHarbor's guide to <a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/health-insurance-101/denial-analyzer">dealing with health insurance denials</a> can help point you in the right direction on who to call and what to say if it is more than a simple issue.</p> <p>In most cases, your healthcare provider's office and your insurer will both have customer service representatives who can help with the more basic issues. If it becomes complex, get ready for multiple calls or written correspondence, complete with whatever documentation you've filed away for that visit or service. Don't forget about the patient's secret weapon when it comes to insurance issues &mdash; your employer's benefits department. They carry much clout as the ultimate buyer of insurance policies.</p> <h3>4. File, shred, or submit to your FSA?</h3> <p>Once you've gone through the above three steps &mdash; you've determined if correspondence is even relevant, you know if it refers to an open or closed medical bill, and you are satisfied that you don't need to straighten out any problems, you can file or shred the documentation.</p> <p>For any service that has yet to be fully resolved financially, keep the documentation in a folder exclusive to either open medical bills or that particular service, depending on your level of organization. If the service has been paid, you can either place the document in a longer-term file (if you are the filing type) or simply shred the document. We recommend shredding due to the sensitive nature of many medical documents. Before you do, however, make sure nothing on the bill &mdash; such as a copay &mdash; can be submitted to your Flexible Spending. If so, process it and wait for the reimbursement check to come or funds to show up in your bank account before shredding the documentation.</p> <p>Keep in mind that most larger insurers now give you access to EOBs and other documents online, so filing paper isn't as important as it used to be.</p> <p>In short, each step of this process should reduce the amount of paper you have floating around your desk. More importantly, it will separate the wheat from the chafe when it comes to healthcare documents. Knowing which one or two of those ten documents are really important, and which require action, will help you use your time well and get the most from your health insurance and medical providers.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Heather Johnson, Director with <a target="_blank" mce_href="http://www.healthharbor.com/" href="http://www.healthharbor.com/" title="HealthHarbor.com">HealthHarbor.com</a>.</p> <p>Find more tips on HealthHarbor:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li><a target="_blank" mce_href="http://www.healthharbor.com/saving-at-the-doctors-office" href="http://www.healthharbor.com/saving-at-the-doctors-office" title="Saving Money at the Doctor's Office">Saving Money at the Doctor's Office</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" mce_href="http://www.healthharbor.com/health-insurance-101/bad-health-plans" href="http://www.healthharbor.com/health-insurance-101/bad-health-plans" title="Dealing With a Bad Health&amp;nbsp;Insurance Company">Dealing With a Bad Health&nbsp;Insurance Company</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" mce_href="http://www.healthharbor.com/tools" href="http://www.healthharbor.com/tools" title="Interactive Tool for Finding&amp;nbsp;Discounted Generic&amp;nbsp;Drugs&amp;nbsp;">Interactive Tool for Finding&nbsp;Discounted Generic&nbsp;Drugs </a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heather-johnson">Heather Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-4-step-plan-to-manage-your-medical-correspondence">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-workouts-besides-crossfit-that-may-actually-be-hurting-you">5 Workouts (Besides CrossFit) That May Actually Be Hurting You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-wonderful-uses-for-witch-hazel">15 Wonderful Uses for Witch Hazel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-and-simple-sunburn-remedies-that-really-work">Cheap and Simple Sunburn Remedies That Really Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sell-your-hair-for-cash">How to Sell Your Hair for Cash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs General Tips Health and Beauty filing mail medical insurance Fri, 30 Oct 2009 13:00:03 +0000 Heather Johnson 3770 at http://www.wisebread.com Charitable giving - get a receipt http://www.wisebread.com/charitable-giving-get-a-receipt <p><img src="/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/money_hands1.jpg" alt="Gimme" width="107" height="160" align="right" /></p> <p>Here&#39;s hoping that I get this right - according to the IRS and NPR, new provisions are going into effect next year that will change the requirements for receiving a deduction on your taxes for charitable donations. The story that I heard on the radio referred most to donations to religious institutions, but it probably relates to other giving as well.</p> <p>So, as far as I can deduce, you probably want to give your money in larger chunks, and get a receipt every time. In the past, the IRS was content with an honor system in which you merely <strong>reported</strong> your donations of under $250. Apparently they felt that writing this information down (on a day planner or journal or calendar) constituted proof that the donation was actually given - but they no longer do. </p> <p class="blockquote">&quot;To deduct any charitable donation of money, a taxpayer must have a bank record or a written communication from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. A bank record includes canceled checks, bank or credit union statements and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity and the date and amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity and the transaction posting date. Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card, and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.&quot;</p> <p>The IRS clears up the mystery (not) <a href="http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=164997,00.html" target="_blank">here</a>. Skip through the IRA stuff unless it applies to you (you&#39;re over 70 and have an IRA). You can listen to the NPR story <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6685843" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p>The basic takeaway message is, when giving to charity, either pay with a check or credit card, or GET A RECEIPT. Don&#39;t let anyone make you feel cheap for asking for it, either. Like those bastards at the Goodwill Donation Center that I went to last week. </p> <p>&quot;Do you... sigh... want a <strong>RECEIPT</strong>???&quot; </p> <p>The answer (all together now): &quot;Yes, I would. Thank you.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/charitable-giving-get-a-receipt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-should-make-these-11-easy-donations-before-time-runs-out">You Should Make These 11 Easy Donations Before Time Runs Out</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxes-on-irregular-income">Taxes on irregular income</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-are-your-chances-of-getting-audited-by-the-irs-your-guess-is-probably-wrong">What are your chances of getting audited by the IRS? Your guess is probably wrong</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes charity filing giving IRS taxes Thu, 28 Dec 2006 01:05:42 +0000 Andrea Karim 120 at http://www.wisebread.com